Christchurch Dance Team to Compete in World Hip-Hop Championships
Reality has yet to sink in for six young dancers from Christchurch who will perform on the world’s biggest hip hop stage in just six weeks.
Swarm Studios’ Reality Dance Crew will represent New Zealand as the only team from the South Island at the World Hip-Hop Championships in Phoenix, Arizona, USA – an opportunity which, according to the team, still doesn’t seem real.
The prestigious hip hop event runs from August 6-13 and brings together more than 4,000 dancers from 50 countries to compete for a world title.
The six-member crew of Chloe Wright, Endiah Kesha, Hannah Hastings, Lucy Ballard, Emme Daniela Verkerk and Mikayla Cooper, aged 18-21, placed fourth at the 2022 New Zealand Hip Hop International National Championships which take place are held online last month via video submissions.
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The top five crews in each division have qualified for a hotly contested spot at Hip Hop Worlds, and Reality is the only Christchurch crew to accept the call.
Verkerk, 21, said she broke down in tears when she found out they were qualifying for worlds, describing it as “unimaginable”.
“The six of us have been training together for so long and we dream of this and dream of achieving success together,” Verkerk said.
“The meaning behind reality is to turn our dreams into reality, and this is one of them.”
The 21-year-old Cooper said New Zealand’s greatest crews had danced off the North Island and felt proud to bring a team from the south to the big stage.
“All the great crews come from up there, so it’s cool that we’re getting the South Island and Christchurch name out there.”
Each of the six members of the team has been dancing for more than 10 years and said their territory at Swarm Studios is full of “family vibes”.
The dance studio started in 2011 in the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquakes to provide young people with a place to call home and burn off energy, said studio manager Holly Hunt.
As members of the senior team, each chooses to coach junior dance teams in their studio. Verkerk said their overseas adventure was a “stepping stone for them.”
“For them, knowing that we started where they once were, shows them that with the right kind of motivation, training and commitment, they can get there too,” Verkerk said.
Studio manager Hunt has been to Hip Hop Worlds herself and knows all too well the excitement her daughters feel.
“It’s the dream, and it makes possible the reality of what they want to do with their lives,” Hunt said.
“It’s a pretty incredible feat for a Christchurch team.”
Chloe Wright, 18, said she can’t wait to walk down the hall at Worlds and run into the biggest international teams from other countries.
“When you see everyone and you think ‘I have to step things up’, it kindles a new fire, so I’m glad the whole team has the same energy.”
The team needs to raise $30,000 to fund their dream dance trip and have a month of sausage sizzles, quizzes and laser parties ahead of them to help drive up the cost. They also have a Give A Little page online.